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Here's the state of the Rays' farm system

@GoldenSombrero
November 20, 2020

A year removed from a 96-win campaign that culminated with their first postseason berth since 2013, the Tampa Bay Rays were the American League’s best team, winning 40 games in a shortened 60-game regular season to capture the team’s first AL East title since 2010. The Rays went on to

A year removed from a 96-win campaign that culminated with their first postseason berth since 2013, the Tampa Bay Rays were the American League’s best team, winning 40 games in a shortened 60-game regular season to capture the team’s first AL East title since 2010.

The Rays went on to reach the World Series for the second time in franchise history, defeating the Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros in subsequent playoff series to get there, but fell short of the organization’s first title, losing to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the Fall Classic.

Despite the disappointing ending to their season, the Rays’ competitive window looks as though it could remain open for quite some time. On top of having an incredibly versatile and cost-controlled Major League roster, the Rays also own MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked farm system as well as its No. 1 overall prospect in phenom Wander Franco.

Franco, 19, headlines a group of six Rays prospects on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. Considering some of the other high-ceiling talents in Tampa Bay’s system, it might not be long until the organization has even more players contending for a Top 100 spot.

More importantly, the Rays have an increasingly deep crop of both impact prospects and high-probability future big leaguers that should allow the club to remain competitive in 2021 and beyond, even when faced with turnover on the Major League roster.

FARM SYSTEM RANKINGS
2020 Midseason: 1 | Preseason: 1
2019 Midseason: 2 | Preseason: 2
2018 Midseason: 4 | Preseason: 4
2017 Midseason: 5 | Preseason: 10
2016 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR
2015 Midseason: NR | Preseason: NR

Only the top 10 systems were ranked from 2015 to 2019 preseason; the top 15 systems were ranked 2019 midseason.

TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1. Wander Franco, SS (No. 1 on Top 100)
2. Brendan McKay, LHP/DH (No. 12)
3. Vidal Brujan, 2B/SS (No. 41)
4. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS (No. 67)
5. Shane Baz, RHP (No. 86)

Complete Top 30 list »

NOTABLE ADDITIONS

Draft: Nick Bitsko, RHP, 1st round (No. 8); Alika Williams, SS, CBA (No. 14); Ian Seymour, LHP, 2nd round; Hunter Barnhart, RHP, 3rd round; Tanner Murray, SS, 4th round; Jeff Hakanson, RHP, 5th round. Complete Draft list »

Trade: Randy Arozarena, OF (No. 19); Pedro Martinez, SS/2B (No. 21); Michael Gigliotti, OF; Peyton Battenfield, RHP; Cal Stevenson, OF; Logan Driscoll, C

Bitsko flashed one of the higher ceilings among prep pitchers in this year’s class before going to the Rays with the No. 24 overall pick as one of four pitchers taken by the club. He’s precisely the type of young player the Rays love to develop, and the same goes for the team’s second overall pick, Williams, a well-rounded, athletic infielder from Arizona State. Acquired in the offseason trade that sent 2018 first-rounder Matt Liberatore to St. Louis, Arozarena posted a 1.022 OPS with seven homers in 23 regular-season games and then encored with one of the most incredible rookie performances in postseason history, slashing .377/.442/.831 with 10 home runs in 20 games. The Rays also landed a projectable 19-year-old shortstop in Martinez, one of the two PTBN acquired by the Rays when they dealt Jose Martinez to Chicago at the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline.

2021 IMPACT PROSPECT

Randy Arozarena, OF: With his ability to hit for average and power as part of an overall five-tool profile, the 25-year-old sensation is sure to be an early favorite to take home 2021 AL Rookie of the Year honors.

2022 TOP PROSPECT

Nick Bitsko, RHP: Bitsko was expected to be one of the premier high school arms in the 2021 Draft class before he decided to reclassify for the 2020 Draft, when the Rays selected him 24th overall and signed him to an above-slot bonus of $3 million. With his projectable 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and a four-pitch mix that’s highlighted by a plus fastball-curveball combo, the 18-year-old right-hander already has one of the higher ceilings in the organization.

Best Tools

Hit: Wander Franco
Power: Moises Gomez
Run: Vidal Brujan
Arm: Ronaldo Hernandez
Field: Josh Lowe
Best athlete: Greg Jones

Fastball: Shane Baz
Curveball: Nick Bitsko
Slider: Shane McClanahan
Changeup: Josh Fleming
Control: Brendan McKay

How the Top 30 Was Built

Draft: 17
International: 5
Trade: 8

The Rays’ Top 30 Prospects list is much more homegrown than their World Series roster, which featured 15 players (of 28 roster spots) acquired via trade. Twelve of the 17 draftees on the list were taken in the top three rounds, including six first-rounders and several more competitive balance picks. Xavier Edwards and Shane Baz, two of the organization’s six Top 100 prospects, were former high draft picks whom the Rays landed in trades centered around Major League players, and Randy Arozarena was a former seven-figure international signee by St. Louis. Wander Franco and Jhon Diaz (No. 26) also received seven-figure bonuses, and Vidal Brujan’s signing for $15,000 in 2014 looks like a potential steal for the organization.

Top 30 by Position
C: 1
1B: 0
2B: 3
3B: 1
SS: 5
OF: 6
RHP: 9
LHP: 5

The Rays covet defensive versatility on their Major League roster, especially when it comes to infielders. Unsurprisingly, their Top 30 is teeming with those types, with Top 100 prospects Wander Franco, Vidal Brujan and Xavier Edwards leading a group of eight middle infielders on the list, including five ranked in the top 15. Developing pitching has never been an issue, and the Rays have plenty of it spread throughout the system, with southpaws Brendan McKay, Shane McClanahan (No. 6/MLB No. 99) and Josh Fleming (No. 28) are all ready to contribute now, and high-ceiling youngsters like Shane Baz and Nick Bitsko likely a few years away.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.